Saturday, September 16, 2006

Out of Touch in Verona

1. Leaving our Salzburg hotel
2. Andy and Julie - Photo op at a rest stop in the Dolomites
3. Even the Italian Police have taste - a 330ix with Sport Pkg
4. With no luggage in sight, A&J say 'who needs it' as they hit the stores
5. Marcia says wait for me...
6. Via Mazzini where all the action is
7. Roman Arena - 1st Century BC
8. Walking in the rain, Verona at night

It was always going to be a stretch as we left Salzburg for the Chianti region of Italy. Around lunch time we got as far as Verona and felt it was so interesting that we decided to stay for a night. This is the joy of having a very loose itinerary. You can stop wherever and whenever you want.

As we were driving to Verona, we hit some traffic on the autostrada and killing time I decided to play around with the Nav and the variety of auto setup info you have available (not something you want to be doing at 100 mph). I got to the bluetooth section and decided to see if I could synch with my cell phone. I reached for the carrier on my hip and had a cardiac moment. No cell phone! After 25 years of marriage, this is the part where you say 'I gave it to you' 'No you didn't, I would have remembered'. You bat accusations back and forth until you resign yourselves to the fact that its gone. Of course with not having any hotel reservations, this was a minor disaster. Andy also had a problem. Notifying Nextel (his carrier) to turn on International roaming so that is cell would work in Europe, he arrived only to find that his phone wouldn't work at all! Our solution was to walk into an Italian phone retailer and buy the cheapest throw away cell phones they had (2 phones - 49 Euros!) We loaded them up with 25 Euros worth of minutes and we were back in business. We started calling hotels and wound up in the Hotel Milano (us) and the Hotel Romeo & Guiletto (them). Both very nice hotels.

Most inner-city Euro towns have closed all the streets for pedastrian use only. If you're driving, you can often get the hotels permission to drive down these streets that are often no wider than the car. This can be a real experience when pedestrians are also on the prowl. Usually the Nav would warn us when the address we were seeking was in a pedestrian zone.

Throughout the day, a lot of young people were hanging out by the Roman arena. We could hear occasional screaming and a band working up. It turned out that Pearl Jam was in concert that very evening. We didn't get tickets but it was a very bizarre experience to hear American Rock pouring out of a 1st Century BC ampitheater as we sipped wine at a sidewalk cafe 10 meters away.

That night we experience a torrential downpour. It didn't stop the Italians from doing the passegiata (stroll) which is evening sport for the locals as they stroll arm in arm up and down the streets. Of course we joined them and got soaked in the process. Later that night we had a fantastic meal in a tiny restaurant with only 4-5 tables. We had some caramari that was excellent and accompanied it with the finest Chianti Classico we could ever remember having. It was to remain a highlite of our trip.

In the morning equipped with my new Italian phone, I called my US number to see who would answer only to find it ringing under the passenger seat of the car. I win.

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